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Blitzkrieg 3 Blitzkrieg 3 is a WWII RTS from Nival Interactive. The previous Blitzkrieg games were both well received WWII RTS’s that gained a strong fan base, but after a ten year gap since Blitzkrieg II, a third iteration of the series came as a surprise to all. The new Blitzkrieg is of course another WWII RTS style game, with obviously much improved graphics to its predecessors, however apart from making the tanks prettier, Nival have been experimenting with some new and unconventional multiplayer mechanics. Nival’s grand design with Blitzkrieg 3, is to integrate multiplayer with social features. In principle it’s not a bad idea, competing against just another faceless opponent is nowhere near as much fun as competing against someone whom you can chat with before and after a match, trading insults with them and their mothers (I’m sure Nival don’t intend to drag anyone's mother into this), and more importantly, embarrassing them in front of their peers. It’s clear that Nival have also taken a lot of inspiration from various “social” games for the multiplayer portion of B3. These “social” or Facebook games are generally designed to keep you hungry for upgrades that just give you pointless stat buffs, that make you hungry for the next upgrade, all with the option to buy resource/experience boosts with microtransactions to speed up the process for a while. Blitzkrieg 3 in essence does follow this model, however it foregoes the microtransactions (thank goodness). Its other saving grace is the sheer number of units and abilities available. The upshot of this is that the “missions” in multiplayer have transcended their grindy heritage to actually become a reasonably fun RTS experience.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada I'll say it just one more time. Hit or miss. That's essentially the three words that define Warhammer games brought to digital life. We've seen the Good, we've seen the Bad, but we have never seen the Ugly. Healthy scepticism is what is needed for these games. Well, all games really, but for a Warhammer fan I take liberty in saying that I scrutinize these just a tiny bit more. I guess a bit of bias for a universe that I care about, is to be expected. It's good for you know too, informed opinions are the best opinions after all. To stick with that mantra, I'll also admit that I've never played the tabletop Gothic game. I've been interested in it, but never bothered. But when Battlefleet Gothic: Armada was announced, I knew the time had come to finally reach for the stars. Into the Eye of Terror I go. Out I come. With a beautifully visualized intro, my fleet is at my command. Truth be told, I had expected different. Much different. Somehow my mind was stuck with the tabletop formula, everything progressing slow and calculated. The kind of experience that makes you double check every option, triple check every move and pray to the Emperor (or your personal equivalent) that the dice fall just right. What I got was fluid, immersive and fast-paced. It took me aback and the first battle I got into, well let's just say I shed a tear when my snail paced cogitators failed to save one of my ships. But you know what? In my own masochistic way, I loved that failure or rather what that failure represents: Battlefleet Gothic: Armada stands on its own feet.

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GameStop – Now We Publish Games In an odd turn of events, everyone's favourite store GameStop has opened a new arm of their business called 'GameTrust' which is acting as a publisher. No, really, this is NOT a late April fool’s joke people, I would get the editor to put this disclaimer in large flashing letters as well. So far the only developers to have signed up for this new service are Ready at Dawn (The Order: 1886), Tequila Works (Deadlight, Rime) and Frozenbyte (Trine series) and for a single one-off we have Insomniac (Ratchet and Clank and Resistance series), developing Song of the Deep which should be out soon, with possibly 20 other developers following suit. We have Mark Stanley, the VP of Internal Development and Diversification at GameStop to thank for this interesting bit of fun, and he has stated that it will not be the likes of EA or Activision as they promise not to push their goals onto developers and it won't be a 'One size fits all' approach. An exert from Mr Stanley is below:

“Having been in the publishing part of first-party for many years, there are many pieces in traditional publishing that have prevented many independent developers going down the publishing route. A lot of these included lack of creative control and the inability to make some of the games they always dreamt of making. We are trying to solve a lot of pieces there with GameTrust, and the model covers a lot of things. We can help if a developer needs funding to finish a game, or even kick-off a game.

We may partner in a full development funding mode, or we may have a development partner who has a game that is almost finished and are just looking for someone that can treat their IP in a great way and bring it to market."

He continues: “Also, every IP that we are working with from these developers are smaller-scale games, it’s an area of games development that is pretty much ignored by traditional publishers... we are talking of games with development budgets of up to $15m. Publishers today really focus on the larger franchises and triple-A, where budgets are $30m and above. We are working in this sweet spot that is largely ignored, but we are treating these IPs as if they are triple-As.

We are not just going to put a disc on a peg on a shelf, we are going to treat these games as triple-A by expanding the media. As an example, with Song of the Deep we are publishing a book with Barnes and Noble, and we are also looking at potential TV and movie deals. We are also looking at putting all of GameStop assets behind the game – we will be promoting it as if it is a triple-A, if you walk into any GameStop store today, you will see Song of the Deep reservations and pre-order signage is all over the prime front part of the store.”

Now, GameStop also owns ThinkGeek.com as well, which is a brand that sells gaming and sci-fi related items, some of them useful, others just down right hilarious. So they are branching out, which in business can be a blessing, and a curse. Now, about the “no interference” with developers...we have heard this before, and I can only hope that they will honour that deal, or lest we end up with another large publisher who mandates changes to fit market projections instead of fun.
Rift Games? On My Vive? It’s More Likely Than You Think We were afraid this might be coming, Oculus’ Rift and HTC’s Vive are slowly dividing the PC’s player base. Between the new Oculus Home that’s tracking user behaviour and the pre-existing Steam client we all know and love. Reddit user “CrossVR” has taken it upon himself to create “Revive” and get a couple Rift games working on Vive units as a proof-of-concept. Lucky’s Tail and Oculus Dream Deck are currently the only games tested, and still require an Xbox controller, but there may be more to come. The hack itself is quite similar to cracking a pirated game as far as I understand it. Specific files key to the game’s runtime are partially rewritten to allow for a different outcome. In this case Oculus Runtimes have been rewritten as OpenVR calls. Revive even got a statement from Oculus on the software stating:

“This is a hack, and we don’t condone it. Users should expect that hacked games won’t work indefinitely, as regular software updates to games, apps, and our platform are likely to break hacked software.”

Now, this makes me think Palmer is backtracking a little bit, when only 4 months ago he said “If customers buy a game from us, I don't care if they mod it to run on whatever they want. The software we create through Oculus Studios are exclusive to the Oculus platform, not the Rift itself.” (Full quote here). So what’s going on Palmer? Let’s get the story straight for once. I’ve watched the Oculus empire rise, but now I see it slowly turn away from what it could have been. With all that’ve been happening lately, things are becoming grim. Shipping issues, faulty devices, and general lack of communication. And maybe I say this with a bit of salt, but thanks Palmer, we might not have had the Vive without you. You started the “VR revolution” in your garage, it’s too bad the Vive might finish in first.
Microsoft Possibly Shutting Down Lionhead, Cancelling Games Lionhead might finally be reaching its finale as Microsoft announces the fact that Fable Legends development has been completely stopped and that there is a good chance the studio will be closing down all together. Lionhead Studios has been known for making a lot of great IPs throughout the years. They are most commonly known for their Fable franchise which started in 2004 and their Black & White franchise which started in 2001. The development of the game was most likely stopped because of the very low demands for it. The studio hasn’t made a successful game since Peter Molyneux left. He originally worked for Bullfrog Studios and made legendary games that are known to inspire some of the biggest games today who left in 2012 to work on other games was almost always the head of the new franchises. Some of his best known games from the 90s are Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park and Populous. Since then the company has been trying to milk their older IPs for more sales. A quote from an article Lionhead released today:

These decisions were not made lightly, nor do they reflect the talent of the studio, rather they are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and engaging to play.”

The studio has said on their website in an announcement that anyone who has purchased the game will be getting a full refund. An email will be provided with further information that should arrive within the next 7 days. We’ll most likely not see any other games coming from Lionhead and with the fact that Peter moved on over 4 years ago from the company it is at this point very much dead. Press Play has also been hit by this “Getting shut down because of low demands” thing Microsoft are doing. Although not really a well known studio like Lionhead, Press Play has released many games since its original uproar in 2006 and was purchased by Microsoft in 2012. They were also in the midst of producing Project Knoxville which by now you can guess, has also had its production stopped. Microsoft is probably just playing it smart business-wise, they are straight up stopping investments in companies that are no longer producing good games and making enough money. This point might seem harsh to some but both of these companies have had a nice lifespan where they created a non-insignificant amount of games for the world. They’ve both had a good long run but unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
Tim Sweeney’s Concern over Microsoft Policies The appearance of a curated and restricted Microsoft Store on Windows 8 have made many people suspicious about the future of Windows. Valve was first to react to a potential threat to their game store by launching their own fork of Linux – SteamOS. Now, after the release of several large games on Windows 10 store, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has shared his concerns in Guardian op-ed. Sweeney’s main concern is the MS exclusive control over the distribution of the software using the new UWP (Universal Windows Platform).

“The specific problem here is that Microsoft’s shiny new “Universal Windows Platform” is locked down, and by default it’s impossible to download UWP apps from the websites of publishers and developers, to install them, update them, and conduct commerce in them outside of the Windows Store.

It’s true that if you dig far enough into Microsoft’s settings-burying UI, you can find a way to install these apps by enabling “side-loading”. But in turning this off by default, Microsoft is unfairly disadvantaging the competition. Bigger-picture, this is a feature Microsoft can revoke at any time using Windows 10’s forced-update process.“

Such restrictions on distribution would make Windows gaming more limited in the future in a manner similar to the situation on iOS. Contrary to Sweeney’s claims, situation on Android is not as dire. The option to sideload apps is a simple switch in the options and the alternative app stores are present, including game centric ones. Epic’s founder also stresses the importance of actions, not promises to keep game developer’s trust. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer was quick to respond on twitter: https://twitter.com/XboxP3/status/705794534513324032 https://twitter.com/XboxP3/status/705795213709561857 https://twitter.com/XboxP3/status/705795341572923392 While Microsoft’s promises are somewhat encouraging, there is a reason for caution. They previous announcements and actions in regards to PC gaming fell short. So far, games released on Windows Store also have many other restrictions with negative impact on gamers’ experience. As Microsoft encourages publishers to use UWP to make their games run on both Xbox One and PC, unless system changes quickly, it may cripple a lot of benefits of PC gaming.
REVIEWS 28 Apr 2016 by Sawyer

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls showed gamers castles in ruins, poisonous swamps, a world that’s on the brink, but more than all that they introduced us to an all too familiar screen. What I’m here to tell you is that through all the times you’ll die, all the walls you’ll hit, and all the skeletons that’ll run you over, it’s all worth it.

ANNOUNCEMENT 28 Apr 2016 by Simon

Wiping the Killing Floor With Double XP

Killing Floor 2 is having a double XP event this weekend. Starting today until Monday you can earn twice as much XP on all the perks as well as have additional item drops which should be very useful in the new PvP mode. Additionally, Tripwire’s lead level designer Matthew 'Fever' Lefevere posted a new map for the game called The Museum. It is available for free on Steam Workshop. For more information please check out the press release below as well as the event itself.

ANNOUNCEMENT 28 Apr 2016 by Simon

DOOMed for an Hour

Bethesda did a stream of the single player portion of DOOM. They showed off mostly early Mars as well as Hell levels and explained a lot of mechanics as well as design decision behind the game. If you have an interest in DOOM do spare an hour for the lengthy video as it is informative as well as quite interesting.

ANNOUNCEMENT 28 Apr 2016 by Sawyer

Offworld Trading Company Out Now

Space is cool, and making money is always great, so it’s only natural that making money in space looks like both competitive and fun to do, doubly so if you get to screw over your friends with hired pirates or hackers while doing it. Offworld Trading Company, an RTS strategy and resource management game from the developer of Civilization III that’s about drilling Mars for resources, manufacturing, stock values, and sending goods off world to make the big bucks, is shaping up really well. Within the last year they’ve redone their UI, added more buildings, and showed plans for improvement. Eight player multiplayer, daily challenges, ranked modes, online leaderboards; this game has all the competitive aspects down it seems. Offworld Trading Company is available on Steam or through Stardock right now as a full release.

ANNOUNCEMENT 28 Apr 2016 by Lee

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – 101

After the now infamous situation with the “Augment your Pre-order” attempt, Edios has given us a new trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which explains some more of Jensen's augments and the basic storyline pointer. In a quick summary, near the end of Human Revolution, Hugh Darrow activated a killswitch in a large amount of augments that resulted in the person going insane. This caused a mass attack around the world that caused millions of deaths, and the separation of ordinary and augmented humans. This new trailer is narrated by Jensen, explaining what happened, explaining his motives, and showing off some of the new augments as well as old ones. The Icarus landing system is still in, but now Jensen has wrist mounted non-lethal stun weapons, also the Titan Shield to protect him from incoming fire. On the surface you are to arrest Talos Rucker and defuse the problems with his ARC group, but Jensen's real motive is to find the people who helped Darrow cause the Aug Incident, and expose them to the people, no matter where they hide. On a semi-related note, the canonical ending of Human Revolution is left open, so there is no definitive ending, but there are clues all throughout the world from each ending, which I think is a good way of doing that.

NEWS 28 Apr 2016 by L

Kicking InSomnia Into High Gear

We've spoken about this a few times, though not so much recently. To the extent, actually, that I almost thought InSomnia had been cancelled. Which would have pissed off all the Kickstarter backers no doubt. Then again, some of them are likely to be pissed off anyway, because it's gone back to Kickstarter. After raising a little over $90k, they're looking for a further £55k. Which is roughly $80k. The reason for this, is to polish the game as much as possible before release. According to the Risks and Challenges section, we can gather that InSomnia is pretty much done. But it can always be better, and they want to make it better. They've also included one of the most interesting backer rewards that I've yet encountered. As well as the usual, money based, rewards. Get the game, have a poster, that kind of thing. But in something of a stroke of marketing genius, further features will be unlocked simply by the number of shares on Facebook and Twitter, and some extra in game items. Based on the number of backers this second campaign receives. If you are at all unsure of the game and have some, entirely understandable reservations, based on the second Kickstarter. There is a demo available, which takes place a short time before the main game, and follows the adventures of a potential extra companion for the main game. In fact, after having a quick play around with it, seeing just how well put together it is already, I went and ponied up some of my own money. The demo is a bit flaky at the moment, the opening cinematic was janky at best. But it won me over. So try it for yourself, have a look through the Kickstarter page and mayhap you'll see why.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Stephen

Special Tactics Released

Special Tactics the tactical top down squad shooter (try saying that five times with a mouth full of 9mm) from Beat Mode Games, is getting its full release. After barely a month in Early Access, the developers are happy enough with the game to say “it’s done”. So if you’re itching for the chance to outthink and outmanoeuvre some terrorists in some pretty tight spots, then now’s your chance. The essential gameplay in ST is very similar to that in a host of other tactical pausable squad tactics games. Perhaps the most famous game that utilises this type of gameplay is the 2011 game Frozen Synapse. Special Tactics moves away from the neon outlines and simplistic graphics in Synapse, to give you a more traditional, pixelated and graphic experience. The game adds a number of mission types for you to experience such as rescuing hostages, and a more immersive setting.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Lee

Seven: The Days Long Gone

What happens when you mix Parkour, Pugilism, Swords, Stealth, and set it in an isometric playground designed by some of the guys behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? Well, you get Seven: The Days Long Gone of course. Set in the distant post-apocalyptic future where humanity has gotten back on its feet, you play Teriel, a master thief who is imprisoned on the island of Peh part of the Vetrall Empire, explore the vast non-linear sandbox map. In Seven, the classic style of isometric gameplay has been redefined. Fool's Theory have created a parkour system that allows both horizontal and vertical fashion of any variety. As you go through, you will have to make choices that will have lasting consequences later on as you explore and survive. For more information read the press release below or head on over to the website.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Simon

King’s Quest Chapter 3 Is Out

If you’ve been itching to continue the story of King Graham, rejoice, King’s Quest – Chapter 3: Once Upon A Climb is here. It explores an interesting alternative to the classic fairy tale – what if when rescuing a princess from the tower...there were two of them. Add a need for love from the first sight and you have an awesome dilemma. It’s either that or a threesome.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Tomer

Rocket League’s “Hoops” Now Available!

The basketball themed game-mode for Rocket League which we’ve already talked about  has been launched for the fans to play! You can battle online in 2v2 matches against friends or strangers alike, dunking, sliding and jumping all over the place. With basic rules like the traditional game, Hoops has countless hours of entertainment to offer. As a special surprise, Psyonix have also added a bunch of other free content with this update. Going from flags to toppers to a new map in “Rocket Labs”, making it so even if you aren’t the biggest fan of “Hoops” you can still get some pleasure out of this update. So what are you waiting for? Go slam some dunks!

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Stephen

A Stunning New 4X – Stars in Shadow

Wow I called 2015 the year of the return of RTS, but 2016 is definitely set to be the year of the 4X. Wargaming nearing completion of their Master of Orion remake, Stellaris days away from release and many other 4X games still on the cards. There is one game that is sticking closer to the original MoO format than all the others, and that is Stars in Shadow. Unlike some of the other 4X’ on the way Stars in Shadow is sticking to it 2D roots and turn based combat, two things that other developers feel they need to “modernize” in order to sell their game. Besides this “traditional” style Stars in Shadow has a very modern look. Opting for a cartoony flavour to all the races and environments the whole thing somehow seems more immersive and true to that 4X grandfather MoO. Set for release sometime in Q3 2016 (July, August or September) the developer Ashdar Games have made a publishing agreement with Iceberg Interactive. They are also still signing up players for beta testing, so get over their quick if you’re interested.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Lee

Everspace Granting Alpha Access

Rockfish announced that closed alpha for Everspace will start on Friday, and if you buy a package before the 30th then you can also enter closed alpha. At this stage you can experience the first four sectors of the map in one of the three spaceships from the game, and modify them with 20 devices and consumables. Unlock 32 perks, with over a dozen different enemies and enemy ship classes to engage you in your progression so far. Everspace is a space shooter game where if you lose your ship, well you have to out and buy a new one. With persistent story and non-linear storyline it will be fun for multiple playthroughs, and is being made to work on Windows with Oculus Rift support. The full game will support the Rift, Vive as well as work on Mac and Linux. The game already received Steam Greenlight and will be on the store. To get your limited time Alpha package, or any package in pre-sale prices, head on over to the Everspace store website and browse over.

ANNOUNCEMENT 27 Apr 2016 by Simon

Watch Wang in Action for Over 10 Minutes

Devolved Digital release a 12 minute gameplay trailer showing off the shooting and traversal in Shadow Warrior 2. The trailer shows off some melee and projectile weapons, powers, the parkour elements as well as open-endedness of the levels as well as our protagonist Lo Wang entertaining us with some dialogue. The game looks really good but I can’t shake the impression that, and I hate myself for saying that, there is too much gore. Enemies seem to crumble into bits rather than being torn to pieces as well as there is just too much blood. Other than that the sequel seems to be a great improvement over what already was a very good game. Can’t wait to chop some daemons again just this time with the help of some friend thanks to the magic of co-op.

ANNOUNCEMENT 26 Apr 2016 by Lee

Fallout 4 Creation Kit Info and the First Unofficial Patch

So, in a double post of news for Fallout 4, Bethesda has given us information about the Creation Kit and mods, including a preview of their new Bethesda.net storefront, though it appears to be the One or PS4's interface rather than the PC one. A bit of news that has caused somewhat of a rumbling in several discussion forums is about 1:30 in the video where a loading screen shows that achievements will be disabled if you use mods. Again, we don't know if this will be console only, or if it will be on the PC version of the game, or what type of mods will cause your game to loose achievements. Now, onto more brighter news, a bunch of enterprising fellows over at the Fallout 4 Nexus have gone and created the “First Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch” which gives us some minor quality of life fixes to make your Fallout 4 experience better. Head on over to the unofficial's page for the download, and don't forget to read the patch notes that list what all has been fixed. Now, to get the discussion ball rolling, I don't like the idea of all mods blocking achievements, look at the unofficial mod pack, they have fixed little things. Then there are mods already that add more colours to the power armours, some that break the colours from the effects. To me those shouldn't block achievements. On the other end, there was mentioned a mod in Fallout New Vegas that if you walked into Doc Mitchell's back yard, it unlocked them all, that in my opinion is cheating.

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